Mellon Workshop

About UCR’s Mellon Foundation

What is the Mellon Workshops Program?

The Mellon Workshops are forums where faculty members and advanced graduate students can meet on a regular basis to:

  • Explore research topics of common concern
  • Discuss their work, and
  • Discuss the implications of new research in relevant fields.

The Workshops Program was created to support scholars in their efforts to explore new intellectual agendas in a time of shifting disciplinary boundaries.

The workshops offer a flexible mechanism for redrawing the intellectual map and creating new communities of discourse, both within and across departments, by challenging faculty and graduate students to find new points of conceptual convergence and reconsider old methodological divisions. A typical workshop brings together several UCR faculty members and a number of advanced graduate students from different departments, meeting regularly (at least four times a quarter) to present their work-in-progress and otherwise explore a topic or problem of common intellectual concern in the humanities or humanistically oriented social sciences. Proposals are submitted by faculty and graduate students in Spring Quarter for workshops slated to take place during the following academic year.


How diverse are the workshops?

These are faculty- and student-driven groups, based on and inspired by current intellectual interests. As such, the range of topics and formats vary widely. Some groups meet for a year to discuss a specific and timely event or issue. Some workshops may reinvent themselves yearly, shifting their thematic and methodological foci to address changing needs in their fields. The Mellon Workshops Program is designed to be flexible enough to support these myriad and evolving types of inquiry and conversation.


How are the Mellon Workshops administered?

The Mellon Workshops Program Committee led by the Mellon Program Director serves as the Selection and Review Committee for the Mellon Workshops Program. This group recommends to the dean of CHASS which workshop proposals receive funding, and it designs policies to keep the workshop program both successful intellectually and compliant with the terms of the grant from the Mellon Foundation.

In addition to selecting workshops and determining workshop policies, the Program Committee is responsible for financial and administrative oversight of the workshops program. The intellectual leadership and day-to-day coordination of each workshop is done jointly by its Faculty Coordinator and Graduate Student Coordinator(s). They are responsible for scheduling and publicizing meetings and events, inviting participants, preparing and distributing workshop materials, and submitting receipts for expenses, etc. A Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSR) will work for the program to help each group with administrative matters (acting as intermediary with each group coordinator and the Mellon staff, providing staff with details of scheduling, etc., and helping with publicity and group logistical matters).


How does the Mellon Workshops Program fit into the larger mission of the College (CHASS)?

Great scholarship does not happen in a vacuum. We believe that the process of learning is a shared endeavor—where significant intellectual problems are defined, tested, and transcended in the context of continuing intellectual discourse. We find it troubling that graduate students in humanities disciplines often find themselves working in isolation at the crucial research stage of their graduate work. The Mellon Workshops are one way the college encourages graduate students to enter into ongoing scholarly dialogues, and supports faculty in their efforts to provide an ongoing context for graduate research and training in the humanities.

The Mellon Workshops Program provides research fellowships each year for a group of scholars (approximately one-half of whom are UCR graduate students) to concentrate on research and writing in a stimulating and collegial atmosphere. We also organize conferences, lectures, and visits of important figures in the humanities and the arts that become moments of particularly intense discussion of significant issues within and across the humanities disciplines at UCR. We support the five Mellon workshop groups that meet each year as part of our mission to encourage scholars to explore and create intellectual synergies across disciplinary boundaries.


How did the workshops program get started at UCR?

In 2002-03, the Mellon Workshops Program was begun by a grant from the Mellon Foundation. This workshop program, inspired by similar programs at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, was originally proposed by Dean Patricia O'Brien. It has since become an important part of UCR's intellectual landscape.


Goals of the Mellon Workshops

Although the intellectual foci of the various Mellon Research Workshops at UCR are vastly different, each workshop strives to meet the following goals:

  • To support innovative interdisciplinary research in the humanities at UCR.
  • To encourage participants to pursue ideas and issues that span traditional disciplinary and institutional boundaries.
  • To create dynamic intellectual communities that support new research possibilities and the development of latent research agendas.
  • To provide ongoing supportive contexts for graduate student scholarship, particularly for dissertation-stage students.
  • To prepare graduate students to make smooth transitions from their roles as students to those of peers and colleagues in the academy through the participation in and shaping of a shared intellectual enterprise with faculty members.
  • To assist faculty members in their efforts to provide top-level graduate student intellectual and professional training.

For more about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, go to:

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